William and Louisa
Anderson Part II -
Jamaica Period, 1839-1848 - Chapter 4
1842 - Formation of a Congregation
at Rose Hill—Mr. Anderson's Ordination as an Elder
The principal events of the year 1842 were the
death, on March 3rd, of Mr. David Pratt Buchanan of Port Maria, who had gone out
to Jamaica along with Mr. Anderson; the formation of a congregation at Rose
Hill; and the ordination of Mr. Anderson as a ruling elder on the 20th of May.
In a letter to Dr. Brown, dated Carron Hall,
March 8th, Mr. Anderson writes of Mr. Buchanan's last days of work, death, and
In closing my letter to you this day week, I
mentioned to you that Mr. Buchanan was ill of scarlet fever, and "not out of
danger." I was much struck when, on the evening of Thursday the 3rd, I received
a second note from Mr. Simpson, informing me that Mr. B. was no more. lie had
died at noon. On the Thursday previous he was in school, though poorly,—just a
week in descending from his work to his grave, lie was much stronger and better
looking a few weeks ago than ever I saw him either in Scotland or here. On the
first Sabbath of February, Mr. Simpson being from home, I went to Port Maria,
and Mr. Buchanan came to Rose Hill. His text that day was, "Then shall the
righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." On the third
Sabbath he was at Unity. . . . That was his last public work in the Church
On Friday morning I rode down to his funeral. At
a little after twelve the solemn procession left the school-house for the
church. The coffin was followed by Mr B.'s scholars, and some other young
people, arm in arm. It was placed in the middle of the church. I took my station
beside it, and addressed the young people, many of whom were deeply affected,
and shed many tears. Mr. Simpson addressed the old people from the desk. After
devotional exercises, the remains of our brother were deposited in their
resting-place, just beside those of Mrs. Simpson, who was laid there three
months before. . . .
On Sabbath I had to address the congregations at
Carron Hall and Rose Hill. I went to Rose Hill early, and returned to Carron
Hall between one and two o'clock. The congregations at both places were large
and deeply attentive. All seemed deeply affected when mention was made of Mr. B.
Many of Carron Hall congregation had heard him at Unity.
The only extant early letter of Mr. Anderson to
Mr. Goldie, and probably the first written after their meeting at "the Hall" at
Goshen, is a brief note informing him of the death of Mr. Buchanan. It begins
and ends, "My dear brother," which continued to be their fraternal style of
address in their lifelong correspondence, which unfortunately has been almost
Mr. Anderson goes on to mention how the work
consequent on an illness of Mr. Cowan's and the prevailing sickness had affected
his own health:—
Mr. Cowan was very ill about the beginning of
February. Having had more than usual work to do in consequence of Mr. C.'s
sickness, and that work being, on account of the prevailing sickness and death,
of a very exciting kind, I felt myself at the end of March considerably worn
out. For a week or two I was I can hardly say sick, but sickly. I was ill enough
a few days, having been salivated. I have got over my weakness now, however, and
feel my health as good as ever it was. The epidemic which has hurried so many
hundreds into eternity has not yet ceased its ravages, but it is nothing now to
what it was from August to .March.
A description of Mr. Anderson's first experience
of a shock of earthquake follows:—
On the afternoon of Saturday the 7th curt, the
shock of an earthquake was felt in this island. It was so slight that few felt
it. It is the first in my experience. I was sitting alone on the sofa reading (I
think) The Life and Times of John Campbell, when I felt the whole house shake
under me. It was an undulating motion, like that of a ship over a wave. I looked
out and saw several people busy at different things, but no one seemed to feel
anything strange. Without saying anything, I resumed my reading, but thought,
"This is surely an earthquake." On mentioning it to several persons afterward,
it appeared that all who were sitting within doors in quiet felt it, and those
out of doors or busy did not feel it.
In a letter dated Carron Hall, May 25th, the Rev.
John Cowan writes regarding the formation of a congregation at Rose Hill:—
Since I last wrote you a considerable part of my
time has been occupied at Rose Hill examining candidates, in order to the
formation of a church and the dispensation of the Lord's Supper among them.
This, in my present rather weakly state, has been a somewhat laborious though a
very interesting work. I conversed with them individually during the day, and
had meetings with them in the evenings. On this and on former occasions I
examined upwards of fifty of them several times, and out of this number have
admitted thirteen, who seemed to be the choice portion of the Rose Hill
congregation. It was gratifying to see the excellent spirit manifested by those
who were delayed. Some of them would have been happy if I had encouraged them to
come forward; but none of them expressed any undue anxiety to be admitted, and
they manifested the very best feeling towards those who had got before them.
With those admitted I have had great satisfaction
in observing their correct knowledge of the leading truths of the gospel, and
have often been greatly cheered by the influence which these appeared to exert
over their consciences and hearts, manifesting itself, in some instances, in the
tears they shed while conversing of the love of Christ in dying for our sins;
and in others, in their undisguised sorrow for the hardness of their hearts, in
preventing them from making a more hearty surrender of themselves to Him. They
belong, I trust, to the fold of the Good Shepherd. They have given evidence that
they are walking in the footsteps of the flock. . . .
We met for the formation of the church on Friday
the 20th inst. We enjoyed on that occasion the ministrations of Mr. Simpson of
Port Maria, and two American missionaries, Messrs. Beardslie and Hovey. Mr.
Simpson commenced the services by praise and prayer. Mr. Hovey preached from
Acts ii. 47: "The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved."
Afterwards, the candidates who had been approved of were formed into a church by
making a confession of their faith, and a profession that the\r gave themselves
to the service of the Lord, etc.,—the care of them devolving jointly on Mr.
Anderson and me. Mr. Anderson was ordained at the same time to the office of
ruling elder. Mr. Simpson offered up the ordination prayer, and concluded the
services by an address to the church. . . . The influence, I trust, of the
services of this clay will be salutary and abiding. The schoolhouse, although
not floored, was seated throughout, and nearly full. Several of the members of
Mr. Beardslie's church and of Carron Hall were present.
The Lord's Supper was observed at Rose Hill on
the 22nd inst. The day on this occasion was no less interesting than the day
when the church was formed. There was a large assembly—more than could be
accommodated. Mr. Beardslie preached an excellent discourse from John x. 14, and
several of the members of his church came and united with the members of the
Rose Hill and Carron Hall churches in fellowship at the Lord's table.
Having thus noticed the formation of a church at
Rose Hill, let me remind you that the gospel began to be preached there about
five years ago, at first on the coffee terraces, and afterwards in a temporary
building erected by the people themselves. This building, though of a very
humble description, cost much of the time and labour of the people, and has
served both as a school-house and place of worship. It was built in the month of
August 1838, the first month of freedom, some of the people remarking that they
wished to give the first of their labour to God. For the first three years I was
able to give them only an occasional sermon ; but since the arrival of Mr.
Anderson in 1840, his labours on the Sabbath have been almost exclusively
devoted to Rose Hill, and the attainments of the people are peculiarly the fruit
of his labours among them. His deep interest in them has been abundantly
manifested, and it must be very gratifying to him to see, in the formation of a
church among them, the first-fruits of his anxieties and labours and prayers on
In his letter to Mr. Elliot, Mr. Anderson gives
an account of the formation of the congregation, etc., similar to that of Mr.
Cowan, and, commenting on the small number admitted to membership (which he
gives as twelve), writes:—
Others might have been admitted, but it is deemed
best both for safety and comfort to begin with few at a new station. When Mr.
Chamberlain formed a church at Port Maria, he admitted only fourteen, although
he had been preaching there for three years. I must confess, however, that I was
not altogether satisfied that so few seemed to have received much benefit from
the Sabbath instructions of upwards of two years. But I expect that the number
will soon be doubled. I have upwards of seventy catechumens, besides the twelve
members who are, with the exception of a few superannuated individuals, making
advances in knowledge. . . .
He goes on to speak of his studies:—
The North District Committee, under which I am
studying, meets on this day week. I have to read a few chapters in "Hebrews" in
Greek, the 4th of "Genesis" in Hebrew, and am to be examined on vol. 4th of
Dick's Lectures. By the way, does not Dr. Dick show in his 100th Lecture that to
catechists belongs the title of Doctor? (p. 376).
I compiled an Introduction to English Grammar a
few months ago. If Dr. (William) Brown be getting it printed, you may have a
copy from him. I wrote both to Dr. Brown and Mr. Chisholm of my want of a
Hebrew-Bible, Lexicon, and Grammar. I trust one of them will send said books. I
wish also The Testimony of the Secession Church. I have been studying the 2nd
volume of Home's Introduction for some time. It is one of the Ford books.
The Jamaica Presbytery meets in June. I believe
that Mr. Aird and Mr. Elmslie will deliver trials for license. One question to
be settled is, What powers are to be conferred along with license to preach? The
catechists are looking forward with deep interest to this meeting. I regret that
the place of meeting is so distant that I cannot attend it.
In a note to Mrs. Elliot, written across the
letter to Mr. Elliot, Mr. Anderson returns thanks for what was evidently a
marriage present. He says:—
My dear Madam,—Accept of best thanks from Mrs.
Anderson and myself, and, I may add, Mr. Cowan too, for The Life and Times of
John Campbell. It formed a rich treat to us all. In an out-of-the-way place like
this the reception of a new book, especially of one so full of interest as that
you sent, forms an era. For my part, I devoured the work without one unnecessary
interruption. I could not leave it till I finished it.
Since I last parted with you, you have been
called to drink of the bitter cup of sorrow. I doubt not you feel the death of
your children to be a new connection betwixt you and the eternal world. I feel
the death of my scholars to be so to me.
My wife and I are exceedingly obliged to yourself
and Mr. Elliot for your kind regards and wishes. Must I say it? During your long
silence I often thought, "Well, Mr. and Mrs. E. do not approve of my marriage."
That thought was always a damper, for since I was a boy I always looked up to
you with confidence and affection, and I could not bear the thought that perhaps
you did not approve of that step. I cannot tell you how happy the assurance of
your approval would have made me; but I have myself to blame, I should have
asked it. I have it now, and am much gratified by it.
A brief note to Mr. Elliot, of date July 22nd,
1842, may also be given:—
In my last to you I mentioned some Hebrew books
of which I was in need. On Saturday last, out of a box which came to Mr. Cowan,
I got an excellent new copy of Gesenius' Hebrew Lexicon, and do. do. do. of Mr.
Stuart's Hebrew Grammar, a present I see worth £2, 5s. 6d. from Rev. Dr. John
Brown. I was confounded when I saw them. I was in expectation of getting a
Hebrew Bible in Kingston, but have hitherto been disappointed. Mr. Cowan's, of
which I have the loan, is hardly legible. It is the edition of Doederlein and
Meissner, Lipsiae, 1793. If you can secure a good copy for me, please send it.
Mark the price on it. Mention the price also of The Testimony of the Uu. See.
Ch. If a "Discourse by a Jamaica Catechist" would be of any service for your
magazine, I shall forward a short one. How presumptuous I have become!—Love to
all, from your ever affectionate W. ANDERSON.
Mr. Elliot's reply to these letters, though
bearing the date 3rd Jan. 1843, will most fitly be given here:—
I rejoice that you have enjoyed such
uninterrupted good health—that you have been so wisely guided in forming the
most endearing and important relation in life, and find in Mrs. Anderson one so
capable of sympathising with you and aiding you in your missionary enterprises—
and above all, that you take so much delight, and are favoured with so much
success, in the blessed work to which you have devoted yourself. I hope you will
continue to meet with increasing encouragement, and that you will be made the
happy instrument of enlightening many of our brethren of the negro race, and
turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, and
especially of bringing many of the young among them to the knowledge and belief
of the truth that they may be saved, and perhaps of preparing many of them for
being future missionaries and preachers. I am very glad that you are enrolled as
a student at the Theological Seminary, and expect to hear ere long of your being
licensed as a preacher, and advanced to the status of minister and missionary. I
am even indulging the pleasing thought of your revisiting Ford, at some time or
other, in that character, and perhaps assisting me in dispensing the Lord's
Supper to my people, so many of whom are acquainted with you, and all of whom
take a lively interest in your welfare, and are delighted with every piece of
good news that is received from you.
Mr. Elliot's letter refers to the health of old
Mrs. Potts, Mr. Anderson's aunt, and to the illness of his cousin William, who
was dying of consumption in Dalkeith. Mr. Elliot writes:—
You must have heard that your aunt had, several
months ago, a stroke of paralysis. It was a very slight one, and she is enjoying
at present good health. Her mind has suffered more than her body, and is much
more weakened. But though reduced to a kind of second childhood, she is cheerful
and sufficiently happy. She resides with your aunt at Dalkeith. Though, however,
at some distance from us, we frequently see her, and she is always delighted to
A brief reference to the neighbouring ministers
known to Mr. Anderson may also be quoted:—
Our neighbours, Messrs. Cooper, Sandy, and Brown,
are well; and their congregations, as well as my own, are not, I think,
decreasing (bad as are the times, and severely as all classes are suffering),
but rather improving and advancing in numbers.
A present of a bound volume of The United
Secession Magazine for 1842, and the favourable response to Mr. Anderson's offer
of a contribution for the pages of the magazine, must have greatly delighted Mr.
The editor of the Secession Magazine, while
begging your acceptance of the last year's volume, as a small token of his
respect, has not forgotten your offer, and will receive and insert with pleasure
a sermon from a Jamaica Catechist. lie sends you also the two numbers of this
year—the only ones that have yet been published, and will send you the others as
they appear, or as opportunity occurs.
A few extracts from Mr. Anderson's Journal will
lead up to his and Mr. Cowan's reports on the work for the year:—
May 12.—Showed my scholars a sample of Scottish
wheat, barley, and oats, all on the straw. We have nothing resembling them here
except grass. They viewed them with much interest. Several passages of Scripture
were pointed out where mention is made of wheat, barley, and corn. We feel much
obliged to our Ford friend who sent them. How delighted would scholars in
Scotland feel could their teachers show them a bunch of bananas or a cluster of
Oct. 19.—A heavy rain this afternoon. Dismissed
school a little earlier than usual, during an interval of rain, as a heavier
storm seemed to be gathering. In a short time one of the girls came running to
tell me that one of her little companions had been carried down the river. Mr.
Cowan and I immediately set off to see if we could render any assistance. When
we got down, the girl's father had dragged the body out of the water, and,
assisted by a neighbour, was carrying it home. We used all the means we could
think of, aided by a Medical Guide, to restore animation, but were unsuccessful.
Death had secured its victim.
Dec. 11.—Talked to a few old people to-day about
African affairs—about the murders called customs, of which I had been reading in
the November number of the Scottish Missionary Register. No surprise was
expressed by any of them at the rehearsal of the dark deeds. None of them are
Ashantees, and they have never seen people beheaded on the death of their
chiefs. But they have seen what is, in some respects, worse. They have seen many
persons placed on or in the graves of men of rank, having both arms and legs
previously broken, and left to die there from agony and starvation. An old woman
told me that she narrowly escaped being eaten. A neighbouring tribe used to come
down and steal her country people, and keep and fatten them like so many hogs.
When quite fat, two were regularly killed and eaten every morning. She was once
captured, and would have been eaten like her companions, but she became sick,
and in consequence did not become fat. Another old woman told me that she
remembered of being sent when a girl into a hut to get fire. A large fire was on
the floor, and around it were hung hands, limbs, and different parts of human
bodies, that they might be dried and eaten like hams. The fat sometimes dropped
into the fire and made it blaze more brightly. She had seen men scraping human
sculls into powder, which they put upon the palms of their hands and licked off
like sugar. On asking this group of aged Ethiopians if they would not like to go
back to Africa, a general shudder accompanied the unanimous and evidently
heartfelt reply, "No, massa!" Verily, "the dark places of the earth are full of
the habitations of cruelty."
Little did Mr. Anderson dream, as he eagerly
listened to and recorded these stories of African "customs," that in a few years
he would himself be grappling with similar "customs" in Old Calabar.
In a letter dated Dec. 12th, 1842, Mr. Anderson
gives a report on Carron Hall school for the year. He writes:—
The attendance has been considerably better this
year than last. The total number of scholars last year was 244, and the average
attendance 127. The total number this year is 264, and the average attendance
143. In good weather we have frequently had 160 present.
For some time back 1 have made the advancement
from one division to another elective by the scholars themselves. Once in three
or four months, I name a day about four weeks distant, on which the choice is to
be made. When the time comes, all in the first division are allowed to name
anyone in the second whom they think fit to join them. Those who have been named
are then called up for trial. The Old Testament is opened at random, and three
verses pointed out, which are immediately read aloud by one of them, when a show
of hands is taken whether he is to be received or sent back to his old class.
And so on with the rest. Those who read well are promoted; those who blunder are
sent back to their old seats, with a counsel to be diligent against the next
election day. Those in the second division proceed in the same way to choose the
best readers out of the third. The trial with them is to read two or three
verses in the Testament. This plan, as a stimulus to diligence, far exceeds my
expectations. Formerly there used to be a reluctance shown by many of the
scholars to go to a higher class, but by making it a point of honour they all
strive to attain it. A more difficult book is not now an object of dread, but of
ambition. If anyone become careless, or fall back in his lessons on account of
absence, he is, on the vote of his class, put down to the next lower. Two of the
girls have this year become members of the church.
In regard to Mr. Anderson's work at Rose Hill,
Mr. Cowan, in his report, says:—
He has been indefatigable. A complete system of
instruction is in operation at Rose Hill on the Sabbath. There as well as here
(Carron Hall), we have to combat with old errors, with which the people's minds
have been occupied in former years. Even some of the school children have been
led away by the leaders, and put through a course of dreaming. [For an account
of the superstition regarding the religious value of dreaming, see Jameson's
Memoir, pp. 34 and 198.] Notwithstanding this, however, the prospects of the
station there are highly encouraging.
The number of scholars on the list at the station
is 88, and the daily attendance is about 60. Eighteen of these are learning
arithmetic, grammar, and geography ; and 24 are writing. The schoolhouse there
is all finished now, except the flooring and seating. The boards for the former
have been provided, and the carpenters are now employed upon it.
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